Transfer tests beckon for Rodgers
It is common form at this time of year for the rumour mill to enter overdrive. Moreover, the desire for owners and managers up and down the country to invest in the latest crop of supposed wonderkids is bubbling ferociously, all keen to get their hands on that prize asset who may prove the difference in those tight relegation battles and enthralling title challenges. For Liverpool’s new boss, Brendan Rodgers, pastures new await as he embarks on an exciting stage in his impressive career, short thus far, but promising in every way. Unlike his predecessor, Rodgers’ red revolution will commence without the weight of typical Merseyside expectations, but instead with caution and a certain degree of uneasiness.
Flashing the cash has never been a luxury for 39-year old Rodgers, who made his name as a youth coach with Chelsea under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. Swansea City, bristling with pride and commitment but void of financial competitiveness, provided Rodgers with the perfect platform to launch something glorious. A wonderful two-year spell in charge of the Welsh club, culminating in a fantastical debut season in the Premier League in which the Swans finished 11th, has understandably attracted attention from powers above, and after a regrettable turn of events forced the departure of Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish, there was a loud red cry for fresh blood and fresh ideas.
Money wasted on flops such as Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing has cast pressure upon Rodgers to hunt carefully and purchase wisely; Adam Johnson thought to be top of his wishlist this week. Rodgers ability to wangle a good deal or two hasn’t gone unnoticed, the most successful of which has led Tottenham to attempt a swoop for Bundesliga reject Gylfi Sigurdsson, who impressed in his stint with the Swans. Liverpool too have glanced in the Icelandic’s directions, due to obvious connections. But a potential lack of experience in handling big bucks could prove to be a banana skin for Liverpool’s new project leader. The £16mill talked about for Manchester City’s bench-ridden winger Johnson seems heavy, although in comparison to the £40mill forked out for Henderson and Downing, could prove to be one of the summer’s smarter deals. Nevertheless, for a player who spent much of last season hiding in the doldrums of the Etihad dugout, the asking price is a little steep.
On the flip side, Johnson’s contribution to the City title cause cannot be underestimated. Afterall, he shares an identical goal return with David Silva, an instrumental cog in Mancini’s operation. In England colours, Johnson has never failed to illustrate his potential. Often coming off the bench to provide spark to an all too familiar England performance, Johnson’s cameos have demonstrated pace, trickery and slick finishing, all traits that put City, amongst other top flight clubs, on high alert. Rodgers’ mistake, therefore, would be to lure the 24-year old away from Manchester in desperation, perhaps to compensate and adjourn for previous errors committed by Dalglish and the then influential and employed Damien Comolli.
Names will float about like paper in the wind; Seydou Keita, Gaston Ramirez, Juan Vargas to name but three. But it’s the calibre of player aligned with the price Liverpool pay that will keep the fans on their haunches. Too much money has been bandied about on the wrong players. Rodgers’ first smart move should be to alleviate the tension surrounding Anfield by making intelligent decisions in the transfer market, and avoiding a show of panic much in the way Arsene Wenger failed to do with Arsenal at the start of last season.